Most common health problems in American Cocker Spaniels, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your American Cocker Spaniel

If you want to AVOID health problems in your American Cocker Spaniel, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your American Cocker Spaniel already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


American Cocker Spaniel dog breed

American Cocker Spaniel Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of American Cocker Spaniel health problems

Unfortunately, this lovely little breed is so fraught with health problems that it can be difficult to keep one healthy for a normal lifetime.

A long list of hereditary eye diseases can progress to blindness in middle age. Many Cockers are blind, or vision-impaired.

American Cockers are notorious for itchy skin conditions such as chronic allergies and seborrhea. Skin growths and tumors are common.

Ear infections occur in American Cocker Spaniels more frequently than in any other breed.

Bad joints are a problem. The American Cocker has the 5th highest rate of luxating patella (loose knee joints) of all breeds. Hip dysplasia and intervertebral disk disease also cause pain and lameness and can require expensive surgery.

Hypothyroidism, epilepsy, two different heart diseases.....

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Cocker Spaniel have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases, hip dysplasia, and luxating patella (loose knees), your Cocker Spaniel has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your American Cocker, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your American Cocker Spaniel puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy American Cocker Spaniel puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your American Cocker Spaniel lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Cocker Spaniel
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your American Cocker Spaniel. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Cocker Spaniel
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your American Cocker Spaniel. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your American Cocker Spaniel puppy really need? Does your adult Cocker need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.


Information on spaying your American Cocker Spaniel. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.


Information on choosing the best vet for your American Cocker Spaniel. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of American Cocker Spaniel health problems

Let's start with eyes. Severe cataracts can appear at 1-5 years old and often progress to complete blindness. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can appear at 3-6 years old and glaucoma at 5-8 years old – both leading to blindness. Other eye diseases in Cockers include corneal dystrophy, cherry eye, dry eye, eyelid abnormalities (entropion and ectropion), eyelash abnormalities, tear duct disorders, persistent pupillary membranes, and retinal dysplasia.

Moving on to the skin, American Cockers are notorious for itchy skin conditions such as allergies, pyoderma, and seborrhea. Growths on the skin are common – both non-tumorous growths (especially sebaceous cysts) and tumorous growths (especially sebaceous tumors, basal cell tumors, and breast tumors). A few black Cockers have been reported with the skin disease follicular dysplasia.

Ear infections occur in American Cockers more frequently than in any other breed. This is because the abnormally long, narrow ear canal of this breed traps wax, providing a sticky medium in which fungi can grow and parasites can feed. The folded-over ear flap blocks air from circulating and provides a dark, moist, dirty cave for fungi and parasites to hide. And all the hair inside the ears acts as a magnet for moisture, dirt, and wax. Ear hematoma is also common in Cockers.

The American Cocker has the 5th highest rate of luxating patella (loose knee joints) of all breeds, at over 11% affected. Hip dysplasia has a 7% rate. And intervertebral disk disease is not uncommon in Cocker Spaniels. All of these orthopedic disorders cause pain and lameness and can require expensive surgery.

According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, American Cocker Spaniels have the 13th highest rate of hypothyroidism of 140 breeds (up to 23% affected).

Epilepsy occurs regularly and heart disease (patent ductus arteriosus and pulmonic stenosis) is becoming a concern.

American Cockers are susceptible to blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's disease, Factor X deficiency, and thrombocytopenia).

Other health issues in the breed include liver disease (hepatitis) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Occasionally reported have been lysosomal storage disease, cerebellar ataxia, PFK deficiency, and chondrodysplasia.


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.